Does Gestational Diabetes Matter Postpartum?

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

Read time: 2 minutes

What to know about whether gestational diabetes will affect your health after pregnancy

  • Does high blood sugar continue after you deliver?

  • How to manage gestational diabetes in the postpartum period

  • Tips to help with a healthy lifestyle and eating pattern

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is when your blood sugar levels are high during pregnancy.

This is most often caused by the body not producing enough insulin, the hormone responsible for allowing blood sugar to enter into cells (and therefore helping to keep blood sugar levels stable).4

Does gestational diabetes continue after delivery?

While giving birth often means a resolution of even the most complicated blood sugar issues during pregnancy, people who had gestational diabetes are at a higher lifetime risk of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes (GDM) during future pregnancies.1,2

It’s important to keep regular appointments with your primary care provider in the postpartum period and to get your blood sugar tested in the lab both shortly postpartum and then annually thereafter.3,4

Breastfeeding can help lower your and your baby’s risk of eventually developing diabetes in the future.5,6 It may also help you manage weight if that is a concern for you.5,7

Read more: Strategies for Postpartum Weight Loss

Diet changes after a pregnancy with gestational diabetes

While your diet after delivery may not have to include carbohydrate counting or insulin injections anymore, it’s still important to keep up a nutritious, well-balanced diet and to stay physically active.4,5 Checking in with a registered dietitian who specializes in diabetes (who you may have worked with during your pregnancy) can help you stay on track.

Our team of registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation specialists can also help you with planning meals and fitting in physical activity now that you’re busy with a newborn. They’re available Monday – Friday, 8 am – 6 pm (ET). Chat now!

What to do to manage gestational diabetes after delivery

Keep in touch with your healthcare provider

It’s important to attend your postpartum check-ups and follow up with your provider on getting a postpartum glucose test.4

Continue to eat a high fiber diet

Fiber can help you feel full, sustain your energy, and manage your blood sugar.8,9

Food sources of fiber include: Whole grains (whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc.), high fiber cereals, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.

Incorporate a complex carbohydrate such as whole grains, fruits, or vegetables into every meal and snack and be sure to also include a lean source of protein.10

Combining fiber, protein, and healthy fats with the carbohydrates at your meals and snacks can help prevent how fast your blood sugar increases.14

Read more:

Why does Fiber Matter for Babies, Tots and Mama

How to Include More Legumes and Beans in your Family’s Diet

Meal Plan to Help Eat More Whole Grains

Meal Plan: How to Eat more Fruits and Vegetables

Limit added sugars

Limit items with sugar added (which is now listed on food labels in the US).

And remember that sugar is not always listed as “sugar” in the ingredients.

Sources of added sugar may include: Corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, and malt syrup.11

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting your added sugar to less than 10% of your total calories.13

For an adult eating around 2,000 calories, this means limiting sugar to around 12 teaspoons total (about 48 grams, or 192 calories).

Read more:

What to Drink Instead of Sweetened Beverages

Minimizing Added Sugars in your Diet while Pregnant and Breastfeeding

Meal Plan to Help Reduce Added Sugar in your Diet

Fit in exercise

Once you are medically cleared for exercise postpartum, start trying to fit it into your schedule.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise both during pregnancy as well as postpartum.12

Exercise can be split up into small bouts of time (10 minutes, 3 times per day, for example) and can even incorporate your baby!

Read more:

Postpartum Exercise: Avoid Overdoing It

Exercise: Strengthening and Protecting your Core during Pregnancy

Exercise Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs during Pregnancy

Let's Chat!

We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.

Our Happy Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitian nutritionists certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too! They’re here to offer personalized support on our free, one-on-one, live chat platform Monday - Friday 8am-6pm (ET). No appointment needed, no email or sign-up required. Chat Now!

Read more about the experts that help write our content!

For more on this topic, check out the following articles:

Family Meals: Developing Healthy Eating Patterns

Strategies for Creating a Healthy Kitchen for your Family

How to Minimize Processed Foods in Your Diet

8 Tips for Simple, Quick, Healthy Cooking

How Can I Manage A Sweet Tooth During Pregnancy?

6 Tips for Eating Out: Making Good Food Choices Outside the Home

4 Tips for Making Easy, Nutritious Snacks for Moms and Toddlers